Byron confronts a pedophile on BBC television

May 9th, 2008 by Stephen James

On May 5, 2008, the BBC broadcast an edition of ‘Am I normal?’ on the subject of sex, presented by the media-friendly clinical psychologist Tanya Byron. It included an interview with a pedophile; an ‘out’ (but non-practising) girl-lover, who has been bravely campaigning for wider acceptance of child-love and for the abolition of age-of-consent laws as presently formulated. It was a good opportunity for him to present his case to a wide audience in the U.K. and beyond.

My first reaction to the way in which he was portrayed by the programme was very negative. Though I have seen dozens of these sorts of treatments of the subject of ‘paedophilia’ before, it never ceases to amaze me how one-sided and blinkered they can be. Byron announced before she went in to interview the pedophile that, despite her biases and prior assumptions, she was going to try to be ‘rational’. If that was really her intention, then she failed miserably. Her subject explained that he was attracted to girls from about seven to eleven years of age, and that if it were legal and if the girl was willing, he would act on this attraction. He did, however, rule out penetrative sex at that age. When asked what he would like to do, he mentioned masturbation and oral sex. Byron described all this as ’horrifying’.

Just in case emotion might have ’clouded’ her judgment (surely not!) she checked her interviewee’s opinions with a psychiatrist, who duly confirmed that he was talking nonsense and that the distinction between violent molestation and what he wanted to defend comes to nothing. So we can all breathe a sigh of relief– our prejudices are comfortably endorsed by ’science’.

Such was my initial reaction. But then I started to wonder. Suppose Byron had said she agreed with some of the points the pedophile was making or even just shown some sympathy with them. Would the programme still have been shown? I doubt it. It is daring enough that an ‘out’ child-lover is allowed to express his views on national TV. If this is going to be done, it is expected that the presenter will be required to knock his views down, as in this case. But for a pedophile to be able to speak at all on the BBC is something of an achievement. Byron mentioned that she spoke to him for about an hour and we saw only about ten minutes of this (no doubt heavily edited). But that we were able to hear him at all must, I think, be regarded as a very positive thing.

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9 Responses to “Byron confronts a pedophile on BBC television”

  1. PiedPiper Says:

    I agree if any sympathy was shown the programme wouldn’t have been aired or/and she could of faced loss of her job.

    We are never going to shown in our true light by programmes such as this only the negative will be shown it would be the equivalent of Nazi propaganda admitting that the Jews weren’t so bad not going to happen.

    Having said that Byron was obviously negative towards and shows her inability to look outside the box. One thing I say about psychiatrists or any other mind doctor is if you can’t look outside the box then you have no right to analyse anyone else’s mind.

    Maybe the only way we can get out view across unedited is via live T.V. even if this could happen I find it highly unlikely that our view will come across because the public believe there right but aleast our view will come out unedited.

  2. woundedbutterfly Says:

    Don’t feel so sorry for her. I don’t anyway. She agreed to the edits, she knows that her line of work requires political-correctness. That alone kills her integrity, even if she was sympahetic to a few points that weren’t heard by the public. If she had any integrity, she’d find another job and stop performing this propaganda.

  3. Strato Says:

    My initial reaction was much the same as yours – and your final paragraph raises an interesting issue: to what extent does the modern media machine continue to seek to influence public opinion…or does it now merely seek to reflect public opinion?

    If Byron had taken a purely academic approach, and acknowledged that pedophiles are just ordinary people, rather than some mythical, distinct category of person, would this actually have influenced any viewers, or would it simply have led to a virulent outpouring of more meaningless rhetoric from the public? Is the modern media any longer a viable medium for the communication of ideas?

  4. PiedPiper Says:

    Oh there is another thing I want to say specifically about the BBC I keep hearing about other countries listen or watch the BBC for their daily News in my view the past idea that BBC was one of the best at reporting the news has long gone it has been highly Biased in its views on many things for example its bias towards the Labour party on many debates it’s a channel I can’t watch now.

    So not surprising it’s going to be bias towards us.

  5. Stephen Says:

    This has generated some interesting debate. In response to woundedbutterfly, I should make it clear that I was not urging people to feel sorry for Tanya Byron. She may after all really believe the falsehoods that she was expressing. I wanted (in part at least) to raise the general question of what one ought to do if one is in a position like hers. The trouble with finding another job is that the person who replaces you might be less concerned with hearing different points of view–with the result in this case that the interview might not even be shown. In that sense, we could regard Byron as having done our cause a service, whatever her underlying motivation.

  6. Steve Diamond Says:

    I agree, on all of your points.

    It seems to me, given where things are at politically, what we have available for us which is most powerful is the ability to consistently put our life stories, our ideas, the true statistics and our goals out in front of the public eye, keep it there and soundly defend it against all attackers.

    “We” will not be liberated. I think that is just a harsh fact, which we all have to face. We can fight back, and inflict what may grow into lethal damage for the anti-love movement. The seeds we plant today will eventually sprout…and grow.

    That interview clip and Tanya…well, I wrote a bit about that…some of it is at YouTube, most of it I’ve yet to post anywhere.

    I honestly believe that people like her do not even know how to be rational about this…nor do they realize when they are not being rational about it…and further, they don’t understand the danger in their lack of rationality.

    The best we can expect from people like Tanya, is that one day…they will die…and they wont be able to attack and hurt others who are vulnerable.

    Someday, their legacy will be laughed at…and shuddered over…called immoral…

    …but not before they’ve dragged a lot more people in to carry it on, and crush a lot more lives under their heels.

  7. Steve Diamond Says:

    “…we could regard Byron as having done our cause a service…”

    Yes, a sort of “stepping stone” in the progression of social evolution. It is much better than ending up in a screaming match with a dogmatic fundamentalist, on the Jerry Springer show, after all.

    Sometimes you have to take the best you can get. A lot of movement turnarounds started, being eased into the public through a series of incrementally less hostile exposures.

  8. Daniel Lièvre Says:

    Just in case emotion might have ’clouded’ her judgment (surely not!) she checked her interviewee’s opinions with a psychiatrist, who duly confirmed that he was talking nonsense and that the distinction between violent molestation and what he wanted to defend comes to nothing. So we can all breathe a sigh of relief– our prejudices are comfortably endorsed by ’science’.

    It should be noted that the pedophile expert in question, makes a living out of dealing with abnormal cases – not the “true to life” selection of case studies that would crack his reading lens. I see it as blatantly manipulatory that Tanya Byron went straight from the man-on-the street to “test” his theories with some ivory-tower clinical (pseudo)scientist. If, after visiting a meeting of the Ford Motorcars owners’ association, I was sceptical about the reliability of Ford as a brand, I would not go to a Ford Motorcars repair centre to “investigate” whether my opponents’ claims were correct.

  9. Building The Tesla Generator Revew Says:

    The very core of your writing while sounding reasonable in the beginning, did not really settle very well with me personally after some time. Someplace throughout the paragraphs you actually managed to make me a believer unfortunately only for a while. I however have a problem with your jumps in assumptions and you would do well to fill in all those breaks. When you actually can accomplish that, I will undoubtedly be impressed.

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